Emma vs. Shazza
-Shazza looks like a coked out Mickie James with that dumb jumping around she does, if we’re being honest. And it doesn’t help that this was about as disjointed as a squash is supposed to be.
-They tried to make Emma look aggressive and all she did was throw Shazza around by her hair and put her in some generic submission. Not really a great job selling her as a threat for Asuka, but I get the sentiment.
-I liked the little James Storm promo. Apparently he wasn’t at the recent NXT tapings, which sucks, but I’m not very annoyed as I don’t think NXT is going to lollygag on giving him a storyline.
-I like how NXT is building up the Crews vs. Balor match. Last week they ran that great video package on Crews, and this week kinda brought us back to speed with the Balor package. It isn’t the most inspired or original build-up, but then again, it’s not like either of these guys are huge larger-than-life characters. So I think in that vein, the video packages work since we’re talking about two babyfaces who do most of their talking in the ring.
Jason Jordan/Chad Gable vs. Johnny Gargano/Tommaso Ciampa
-Oh fuck YES. Jordan and Gable are over like gangbusters here, and I LOVE IT. The start between Gable and Ciampa is just excellent, with Gable doing all sorts of crazy technical stuff and the crowd losing their mind over it. I have unconditional love for that man. His funny little one-liners during the match like “Thank you!” after Jordan helps him with a double team, and the “Should I break it?” as he had Ciampa in an armbar are cool little things to keep the slow portions of the match lively.
-Shit-talking and stuff like that should be commonplace for a heel (even though Gable isn’t a heel) but no one except Kevin Owens and Sasha Banks do it, which is a shame. But I suppose that forces WWE to actually let its talent get over organically, so we can’t have that.
-As for this match, it was a tremendous TV match. Better than any of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Classic and one of the best non-Takeover NXT matches of the year. Jordan and Gable are stars in NXT and I continue to look forward to everything they do. From Gable’s selling, to Jordan’s spicy hot tag, to the awesome double-team finish they have. They’re probably the best tag team in NXT and probably better than any team on the main roster when it comes to pure match quality. Seek this one out if you can. ***3/4
-This Eva Marie promo wasn’t as awful as last week’s, but maybe its runtime of 10 seconds has something to do with that.
Nia Jax vs. Kay Lee Ray
-It’s almost as if there’s a God, because Nia Jax’s attire here is EONS better than the abomination she had a couple weeks ago. It shows her figure off a lot wiser, and she looks pretty intimidating with the all-black get-up.
-Kay Lee bumped like a goddamned maniac for Nia too. That bump she took off the top rope looked vicious. The match wasn’t a crazy murder-fest, but overall I liked Nia a lot more this time around. She could definitely use more seasoning, but that’s what NXT is for, right?
-Can’t say I have any complaints about this. Had this been Nia’s debut, I think she’d have gotten a decent amount of hype out of it. Either way, it seems they learned their lesson with that atrocious blue gear.
Enzo & Cass vs. The Mechanics
-I like this feud. It’s very old-school and simple, but it works for who’s involved. And I’m not going to complain about NXT’s tag division being great either, because in the past that’s really been the only shining weak spot for the show.
-I loved Dash and Dawson immediately targeting Cass and going after his knee. Cass was tremendous in selling it too, which then brought out some good crowd heat for The Mechanics. Pretty cool little angle for what it’s worth.
-Another cool little video package for Apollo Crews. Like I said last week, it’s a bit redundant that we kind of did this with Balor in June, but that’s a nitpick as NXT has shown time and time again that it is much more interested in actually giving its wrestlers their humanity than the main roster is. So any time I get an opportunity to see more of a guy like this, I’m liable to praise it on general principle. It should be a very commonplace way to build up characters, but that’s not the WWE we’ve been seeing over the years.
Tyler Breeze vs. Samoa Joe
-As much crap as I give WWE, I think their way of debuting Tyler Breeze made him immediately more interesting on the main roster than he has been as the resident Jobber to the Stars in NXT. He’s getting nowhere near the main event with the gimmick, but he doesn’t have to. He can have a great career as the workhorse midcarder with a good gimmick and there’s nothing wrong with that.
-Samoa Joe pulled out a fucking GNARLY Elbow Suicida here right before commercial. I’ve always loved the way he did that move. The match is nothing more than a decent TV main event. The result was obvious and they really didn’t do much you wouldn’t expect at a house show. Not a bad match as such – it was pretty fun down the stretch – but it was pretty much a filler match until Joe does what he does next. **1/2
-I like the new NXT trend of ending shows with backstage promos. It gives a last-minute sell to the main event next week so you end the show with Crews vs. Balor on your mind, which it accomplishes well.
Final Thoughts: One of the better NXT episodes I’ve seen in months. They haven’t had an actively bad episode recently, but the wrestling hasn’t been as good on the TV show as it used to be. Not that that’s a bad thing, since the angles surrounding it have been fun and engrossing, but this was a good change of pace from the weekly hype show NXT has kind of started feeling like. I’d definitely track this episode down, but if you watch anything from it, make it the Jordan/Gable vs. Ciampa/Gargano match. Can’t say enough good things about it. Overall, a great episode of NXT in what’s been WWE’s best week creatively in what seems like an eternity.